Control what YOU can control

I can’t tell you how many frustrated clients have sat in my office, wishing a relationship they had was different... if only the other person would see the error of their ways and change. When I see a recurrent topic in my sessions, I am compelled to share it with you.

My typical response:

Let’s flip this for a minute and focus on what you can control in this particular scenario.

No one is going to change unless THEY want to, so instead of doing the same thing and expecting different results let’s talk about what YOU can do differently. If you want different, do different and sometimes that means looking in the mirror at what changes you can make. Although hard to do, it’s a really good place to start when your hope is to provoke positive change relationally.

In all relationships the smallest tweaks in how we react to each other can make a BIG difference. Take a deep breath before responding then be thoughtful and intentional with your reaction. Worth a shot, right? 😉

How alive is your friendship with your partner?

LOVE is FRIENDSHIP caught fire...🔥

Partnership is at it’s absolute strongest when a couple has a rock solid friendship. It seems simple but it is something that many couples put on the back burner. How is your friendship with your partner? Alive and well or barely breathing?

Go back to the basics and make time to connect with each other. Life is busy - I know. Just ten minutes is all it can take to make a huge difference! Pillow talk once the kids are down, a drink on the patio on a nice night or coffee early in the morning at your kitchen table. Find at least 10 minutes to talk and make it a part of your daily routine. You’ll be glad that you did. 💕

What you focus on multiples!

Truth!!! When you focus on the negative in your relationship... guess what?!?! You will see MORE negative. EXPAND the positive instead!

As humans, we naturally lean more towards negative thinking. It’s a survival thing. This means we have to TRAIN our brain to think on the brighter side of life. It’s easy in relationships to get stuck in a cycle of blah. Help combat that cycle by purposely picking out one thing that you admire, appreciate or are attracted to in your partner daily. There’s gotta be something, right?!? 😉 Then every time a not so great thought about them or your relationship pops in to that brain of yours, replace it with the positive thought you picked for the day and FOCUS on that puppy!
The more you do it - the more POSITIVE will appear. Give it a whirl!!!

Assumptions in Relationships

"What is one of the most important things to do in order to strengthen a relationship?"
"Stop assuming things!"

Assumptions cause so much needless suffering - I never fully grasped that concept until I started working as a relational therapist. Parent/child, husband/wife, friend/friend - no relationship is immune to the negativity of assumptions. 

I was thinking recently about how much time humans spend on thoughts that start with an assumption. "She didn't text me back - she must be purposely avoiding me!" "He rarely hugs me - he's not attracted to me anymore." "She's not talking much tonight - she doesn't want to be here with me." 

We all do it. It's human nature. It's also BS. We create mountains out of mole hills silently in our minds and in turn create unnecessary distance between one another. Assumptions ARE indeed the termites of relationships. They eat away at us under the surface and then we wonder why the relational house we built with someone slowly crumbles. It's all about prevention and the pesticide is some good ole fashion communication ya'll.

How do you avoid assumptions?
-Be aware that you are assuming to begin with by asking yourself, "Is this a fact or an assumption?"
-Be transparent. ASK each other what's truly going on instead of assuming the worst. 99.9% of the time there is usually more to the story. You just simply have to ask with a calm, non-attack delivery. 
-Communicate with others as clearly as you can and express what you really want in order to avoid misunderstandings. 

*Needless suffering avoided ✔️

🔹Jill Simpson, MA, PLPC

The fear of the "what ifs"

A huge part of our daily mental battle is ACCEPTING the reality of what is in front of us and trying our best to truly take it all one day at a time. This struggle is real for me, folks - and it comes up daily in my practice with clients as well. Can you relate?
Then read on with your worrying self...

The thing is when we feel intensely about something the odds are that we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure the best possible outcome with the cards that have been dealt. Let's find peace in that fact and let the "what ifs" go - knowing we have controlled what we can control. Thinking ahead into the future only makes it feel much more overwhelming, plus worrying simply gets us no where. Be present, focus on the NOW and accept the things we can not change. I know this is all much easier said than done but the more we practice it the more second nature it becomes. Practice makes perfect people!

How do we put this into action? One way is to recognize that pesky worry wart thought as it is happening, imagine catching it and throwing it out of our brain before it makes itself at home! It's not welcome there and soon enough it will get the hint and stop knocking at our door. The goal is to immediately replace that thought with a hopeful one and be on our merry way. After all, there is no way to truly know how it will all turn out in the end - so why waste our energy trying to figure it all out?


Are you there for me?

Hello all! Long time no type! I recently spoke to a local group about healthy attachments in adult relationships. I felt this info was worth sharing with you all so here are a few "noggin' nuggets" that merely skim the surface of a recent training I completed in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples - created by Dr. Sue Johnson. (She has written many books but "Hold Me Tight" is a good place to start if you want to learn more on this topic.)

One of the most powerful statements I heard during this training was when it comes to conflict in a relationship "the virus is emotional disconnection and the inflammation is the fighting." Thought provoking, huh? Well... Is it the chicken or the egg? Some couples say they don't feel close or connected to their partner anymore because they fight so much. This is where I ask them to flip that thought and think on the possibility that maybe you fight so much because you haven't felt truly emotionally connected to your partner in a long time... THAT is what Dr. Sue Johnson says is the heart of the matter! The deepest parts of you may be doubting where you truly stand with your partner therefore causing you to feel unsafe, unstable and unattached emotionally. That fact alone can subconsciously put you on the defense with each other. 

So how can you tell if there is emotional disconnection within your relationship(s)? Well you are in luck... Dr. Sue Johnson shared this acronym below highlighting the three basic needs we assess for within healthy attachments to others:

*ARE you there for me?

    -A: Accessibility: Can I REACH you?

    -R: Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to RESPOND to me emotionally?

    -E: Engagement: Do I know you will VALUE me and stay CLOSE?

The great thing about EFT is that much of it can be used in any close relationship you have in your life. I'm sure many of you can think of your "go to people" in life in regards to these three questions above and the answers are "YES! YES! YES!" I challenge you to turn the tables and ask yourself how your loved ones would answer the "ARE you there for me?" questions about you.

Note: You may feel like you are really trying your best to be a solid "YES!" to all of those questions for your partner and/or loved ones but it just isn't being reciprocated. I often ask my clients in any given situation to focus on the things that YOU can control. Please remember that people can only meet you where they are at emotionally and THAT simply has nothing to do with your own personal efforts to reach them, no matter how hard you try. If this is the case - Keep trying, continue to model the behavior and be as CLEAR as you can be about your own emotional/attachment needs within the relationship. After all, I have yet to meet a mind reader. ;) I leave you with this final calming thought:

"In love you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be there." -Dr. Sue Johnson

Jill Simpson, PLPC

Teen, Adult, Couple & Family Therapist



Top 5 lessons I've learned so far about marriage

Many lessons have crossed my desk in this school we call life but below are the ones that float to the top for me about being a good partner thus far. I thought they were worth sharing! I know there will be many more to learn in the coming years.

1. You do not have to "get it":
Paula was right. Opposites attract! He is an introvert and I am an extreme extro! He loves sports and I consistently loose track of how many downs we have left before the other team gets a turn or whatever (because I do not care). He needs his time alone and I heart people around me. You get the point. We are oh so different but it works. Keeping each other's preferences in mind and not taking them personally is a true skill. It takes practice. Appreciating your differences does not mean you have to understand them.

2. Teamwork is sexy: 
Once we became parents the importance of teamwork tripled. When you have a partner who truly shares in all the duties a full life entails, your heart responds accordingly. Nothing shows love for one another or ignites the flame quite like good ole fashion teamwork. Check please!

3. Cherish each other:
Cheesy but true. We both know from personal experience just how fragile life is... We talk about it often. We have seen it firsthand. You just truly never know when your time is up. So squeeze each other just a little bit longer and say what you feel just a little bit more often.

4. Find the time to reconnect:
One thing we DO have in common is that we like to talk to each other. It is important to check in, even if that means staying up a little later than usual. The amount of time doesn't matter but the act of reconnecting before the busy day is done does. Supporting one another is essential and it feels gooooood.

5. Fan the flame: 
Flirt your booties off! Joke around, send unexpected sweet text messages, tickle each other, whatever does "it" for you. Flirting is fun! Do not stop! Ever.

A good, healthy marriage is truly the gift that keeps on giving. One thing I know for sure is who you choose to share your life with is THE most important decision you will ever make. Period. It affects so many aspects of your life that I can't even begin to list them all! Choose wisely. If you do, you will thank yourself daily. Promise.